It’s done! Tottenham has acquired the services of James Maddison for just around £40M. And if I may speak for the average Spurs fan, I assume we’re all collectively elated knowing we’ve been crying out for a creative midfielder since the departure of Christian Eriksen three years ago.
In truth, this is quite easily one of the bargains of the summer given Madder’s age, homegrown status, Premier League experience and consistent output.
Madison bagged an impressive 10 goals and 9 assists in 30 games last season for a struggling Leicester City. He was the only bright spark amongst a seemingly deflated squad. The most admirable part about such a feat stems from James being asked to operate in numerous different positions which weren’t necessarily suited to his game, yet Maddison ensured it was obsolete in his displays.
His performances landed him an inevitable recall to Southgate’s England squad following a three-year absence.
It is even more impressive when you consider Declan Rice is headed to Arsenal for a little over twice the fee, despite being a defensive midfielder.
Needless to say, Maddison’s transfer comes as a much needed boost for fans to have a bit of hope for what’s to come, following a campaign we would all love to thoroughly relinquish from our memories.
For those unaware, Spurs had tried to actually sign Maddison twice in the past. Once when he was at Coventry, and on another occasion during his stint at Norwich, but Tottenham finally got their man after Newcastle who initially seemed to be front runners for the English international turned their attention towards Sandro Tonali.
James’ most recent performances continue to support his upward trajectory, and as such, is thoroughly deserved for his outstanding body of work at the King Power Stadium.
[I can’t wait to see what he brings to N17]
After a closer analysis of the past five seasons at Leicester, Maddison was third behind only Kevin De Bruyne and Trent Alexander Arnold for the number of chances created. Additionally, he stood fourth amongst the likes of Salah, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min for shots on goal, further reiterating why he’s considered one of the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League.
He dons a swagger like no other, his willingness to attempt the audacious in the final third adds a bit of dynamism to an oftentimes flat Spurs attack. And although some coaches may argue that this disrupts the idea flow of their attacking players, I reckon it fits the bill for what Ange Postecoglou is looking for in his attack-minded 433 formation, where Maddison is likely to feature as a forward-thinking number eight on either side of the pivot.
Whilst he isn’t blessed with sublime pace or power like most of his compatriots, he surely compensates with both trickery and guile.
Improvisation makes up a big part of what makes him tick. And when you couple that with an innate ability to position himself between the lines, he becomes a nightmare to defend against.
Stay too close and he’ll glide past you – drop too deep and he’ll have a shot on goal from distance, which probably explains why he has scored more goals from outside the box than anyone else in the Premier League since arriving in 2018.
Furthermore, he’s an entertainer, whether it be the stepovers, an eye of a needle through pass, his pinpoint set-pieces, assists, tricks and flicks or feints, the kid’s got it all in his locker.
Granted, there are surely a few that can match his exemplary vision and ability to split defenses – but what Maddison hones second to none, is the ability to receive the ball on the half turn before finding a vacant space that increases the attacking threat; a technique similar to that of Lionel Messi.
This allows him to either cause havoc from a central position or quickly shift out wide and put a teasing cross in for centre forwards to get to the end of. The sound made from the ball surfing the air would be like music to the ears of Harry Kane, if he does indeed end up staying amidst the interests of Bayern Munich.
Last but not least, Madison’s free kicks create another avenue of attacking intent in an area Tottenham has been achilles’ for the past few years.
While James Ward-Prowse notably usually receives the plaudits for this particular statistic, Maddison is only narrowly behind him in numbers having scored 10 goals directly from free-kicks. James Ward-Prowse boasts an impressive 17 goals.
Personally, what I admire most about Maddison is that he is strong with both feet, such that a quarter of his career goals have come from his weaker left foot.
Overall, this is exactly what Spurs needed to galvanise one and all that are involved with the club, and I wouldn’t be surprised if our initial aspirations of qualifying for the top 4, quickly transcend into a surprising title charge, given that the defense is revamped as expected.